The Odd One Out
Copyright © 2015
by Gary Conder
All Rights Reserved
by Gary Conder
All Rights Reserved
By the time the boys arrived back at the farm, Mavis was packing up and to their surprise nothing was left outside the Blockhouse, while only the buggy remained inside. Even the trestle tables and clothing racks, delivered some days earlier, had gone.
"Trust you two to arrive back when the work's done." Mavis called as Colt dismounted and commenced to lead the horses back to the yard.
"That was the idea." He answered cheekily. "Did you sell the lot?"
"Not the lot but Bill Hannaford brought over his truck, what was left has gone to the shop." Mavis patted her large carry bag. "Almost three thousand dollars." She boasted.
"I'll look after the horses." Charlie offered and led them away.
"That's good Mavis; it should make your charity happy." Colt commented.
"By the way young man, do you remember your promise?" Mavis placed the carry bag with the money onto the back seat of her car and returned.
"What promise was that?" Colt asked.
"About the buggy, you said you would donate its value and Bill knows about buggies, he recons its worth around ten thousand to the right person."
"Ten thousand I don't think so, besides you wouldn't find Bill's so called right person around these parts." Colt protested.
"I'd accept five." Mavis demanded.
"I'll give you two." Colt negotiated.
"It's a deal, make it two thousand and you can write me a cheque and come to tea tomorrow night." Mavis offered her hand with its fat fingers to seal the deal. Colt accepted. "You can bring your fancy mate if you wish." Mavis added.
As the deal was struck the telephone sounded and Charlie bounded up the stairs to answer. Soon he returned calling from the top step.
"Hey Colt it's for you."
"Who is it?" Colt called back.
"Don't know - some bloke."
"You better go answer it East; I'll see you tomorrow night and don't forget your cheque book."
"Didn't you ask?" Colt said on reaching where his friend was standing.
"I did, it's your uncle Harry but I didn't want to say anything in front of Mavis."
"Good thinking mate,"
Colt answered the call.
"Hello Harry, I just had you're sister here."
"Has her mood changed?"
"Not a bit, what's up?"
"I have a few days owing next month and was thinking I could take you up on your invitation."
"Sure thing, are you bringing Wayne?"
"If that's alright with you,"
"No worries I have a boarder now."
"Oh will that be a problem." Harry asked cautiously.
"Not at all and there's plenty of room."
"Good around the fifteenth, ok?"
Mavis had prepared enough food to feed a host while unknown to Colt, had invited Cousin Judy, who was instructed to bring a girlfriend with her. Mavis was once again playing Cupid. She would match Judy with Charlie for the night and whoever Judy's friend happened to be she would match with Colt. She would marry her nephew off or go down in the attempt.
The spread upon the table could have been mistaken for Christmas without the crackers. Mavis could never be accused of being parsimonious when entertaining and too much was never enough. It appeared she had spent most of the day in preparation, laying out her best silver, crockery and fancy table cloth with the embroidered edging.
There was roast pork and lamb lest Charlie or Judy's friend happened to be Jewish. Charlie was defiantly not, Colt could vouch for that. Roast potatoes, pumpkin, freshly shelled peas in lashings of butter, broccoli, cauliflower and some other green with a Chinese name but tasted like cabbage. Also mint sauce for the lamb and apple sauce for the pork and there would be dessert, treacle pudding with egg custard and cream or fruit, depending on one's fancy. Not forgetting beer for the boys and wine for the girls and at meal's end port if one desired. If one could still desire anything.
On arrival the boys found Mavis and the girls busy in the kitchen. Colt knocked and called through the open front door, moments later he was greeted by Judy. "You're late," She grumbled, her eyes past Colt to Charlie nervously bringing up the rear. She air kissed Colt and offered a nod to Charlie, speaking his name without introducing herself, as she knew him through watching cricket.
"Only ten minutes, it's a long walk." Colt humorously protested, even though they had arrived in Charlie's utility. Judy glanced through the open door to where the vehicle was parked and shook her head at Colt's blatant lie.
"Come in were all in the kitchen."
"Is that your Cousin?" Charlie asked bumping into the rear of Colt who had paused halfway along the hall.
"I didn't know there would be others?"
"Neither did I, who knows who is hiding in the kitchen, could be the Queen."
"Could I pretend I'm sick and leave?" Charlie suggested, his hand pulling back in restraint at the back of Colt's shirt.
"Don't you dare, I'll need some sort of back up with this lot."
"Yea but who is going to back me up?" Charlie retorted.
From deep inside Mavis' kitchen came laughter of the kind released when hearing a joke of the bawdy kind. Firstly the cackle was obvious from Judy but soon after the laughter of a different female could be heard, mixed with the aroma of roasted pork and spice and Colt knew that laugh, even if he had not heard it for some years and on the last occurrence it was at his expense.
"Shit," he whispered rhetorically on entering the kitchen, "not bloody Maddy Ferguson, that's all I need."
It was Maddy and grown up. With all the right shapes and curves and tits, with a skirt so short it bordered on indecent and attitude befitting her maturity.
"You know Maddy don't you East?" Judy asked reintroducing the two.
"Yes from school." Colt answered forcing pleasure into his expression. Maddy crossed the floor and air kissed both of Colt's cheeks, before being introduced to Charlie.
"I thought you left home after finishing school." Colt asked as the group took their arranged places around the meal table.
"I did but didn't like the city I now have a job as Liaison Officer at the Bacon Factory." Maddy explained.
"Ah so that's where I've seen you before." Charlie declared after puzzling with her face.
"Do you work at the Bacon Factory?" Maddy asked, breaking off conversation with Colt.
"Only seasonal for another month or so," Charlie answered then explained how he came by the position and how he met Colt through cricket.
Maddy hung on every word, even pretending to like the game of cricket and having an understanding of field positions, while insisting in calling a cricket bat a club and the bowler a pitcher, while her thought on the Gully was the drainage ditch that skirted the playing field, all the while teasingly ignoring Colt.
By completion of their main course it was obvious to Mavis she had failed in the reintroduction of Maddy to Colt and was most displeased with the attention Maddy was giving to her Nephew's fancy mate. Also with the way Judy, having family in common, hogged discussion with Colt. Try as she may Mavis could not break the conversational direction. It was obvious Maddy was not interested in her Nephew or Colt in her and he couldn't marry Judy.
"You know Ruth Watson, don't you East?" Judy asked during a lull in the conversation.
"Yes, she was in my year at school and married Trevor Young from the Feed Lot, why's that?"
"Trevor told her you had some bloke staying at the farm." Judy innocently divulged, knowing her cousin's dislike for company.
"Probably Charlie here, he's staying there at the moment."
"No I knew Charlie was there, this was an old fellow about forty."
"Why would you want to know that?" Mavis abruptly cut in, realising Judy was referring to Harry's visit. She flashed Colt a look forbidding him from answering. Words froze in Colts throat.
"No reason Aunt Mavis, just Trevor thought he appeared familiar."
"Oh that feller, just some bloke wanting to buy horses, he stayed a few days to get a better look at the mob." Colt answered as artlessly as he possibly could, his answer met his aunt's approval. Mavis quickly changed the subject.
"Charlie do you have a girlfriend back home?" Mavis asked.
"Not as such." Charlie answered which was definitely not the answer Mavis wished to hear. If he had someone waiting for him then it may break Maddy's obvious interest.
"That's a funny answer." Mavis continued.
Charlie lied, "I'm sort of seeing someone but we haven't committed." Colt gave Charlie a,' I've caught you out there,' kind of look followed by a guarded wink.
"Did you say your position at the Bacon Factory is seasonal?" A second question by Mavis, aimed at disarming Maddy's attention, by placing the tyranny of distance between any chances for future romantic developments between them. Surly once his tenure was completed, he would be returning to Mt. Oakey.
"It is but I may get another month or so." Charlie answered.
"Won't you then be going home?"
"I thought I may find other work in town, I'm interested in playing for the local cricket team next season and you lot could do with a good spin bowler."
Maddy's attention had given Charlie voice and courage, he loved talking cricket and any willing ear was welcome, even if it was obvious Maddy was clueless on the game.
"East what do you think about Charlie playing with you?" Mavis asked of her Nephew. Colt smiled, what he wished to say was, Charlie had already played with him but none around the table would appreciate hearing about his bed sport. Instead he answered in the affirmative.
"We could do with a spin bowler, besides it would be a change from facing the silly bloody waddle of his."
Mavis was defeated instead of having her Nephew rekindle old acquaintance she had introduced Maddy's interests towards Charlie and the chemistry was strong, even if it were somewhat one sided but Charlie was a good actor. Still she thought something good may come out of a union of Maddy and Charlie and that would be the removal of the spin bowler from the farm.
"Come on Judy help me in the kitchen." Mavis abruptly lifted herself away from the table and commenced to collect the dishes. Judy complied and followed her Aunt into the kitchen.
"Charlie, make your self useful and bring that lot." Mavis nodded to the dishes at his end of the table. He collected the dishes and followed.
"Well Russell alone at last." Maddy smiled.
"You do know what Mavis is up to?" Colt asked.
"Yes it's a little obvious, do you remember that time in the scrub behind the school yard?" She asked with a self satisfying grin. Colt gave an acknowledging grunt but didn't answer.
"You know, like Monica Lewinsky I should have kept that dress."
"I'm no President." Colt answered abruptly not wishing to be reminded of his failure.
"It wasn't your fault, you were big and I was unexperienced what could you expect but you must admit it was fun trying." Maddy's words calmed his ego.
"I am experienced now." She declared in a low voice, her eyes through the kitchen door and fixed on the well proportioned backside of Charlie. Colt refrained from comment.
"I like your friend." She added.
"Is that so?" Colt commented sarcastically.
"Not for a relationship, I'm not into boyfriends but a one night stand, maybe a second; who knows and I recon that spin bowler of yours would do just fine."
Maddy was always a most forward girl and use to having what she wanted, believing when it came to the opposite sex, all she needed was a smile, short skirt and a showing of arse and any hot blooded male would come sniffing. Colt was relieved it wasn't he that was holding her desire, yet a tinge of jealousy crept into his chest and was burning a gaping hole. Would Charlie be interested in her?
"You should invite me out to the farm for drinks," Maddy suggested as she collected her cigarettes and headed outside for a smoke, inviting Colt to join her. Colt followed into the crisp night air.
"Do you smoke?" She asked.
"No and I don't play cupid either."
Maddy lit her cigarette and haughtily blew smoke towards Colt, who subtly turned away, refusing to allow the acrid smell of cigarette smoke to show his displeasure.
"You haven't changed." Colt remarked forcing a narrow smile.
"What do you mean?"
"Pushy as ever, we better rejoin the others."
As Colt spoke the party returned. Mavis with her eyes everywhere hoping the extraction of Charlie from the room may have helped in her quest to reunite the two but by the obvious display of negativity between Colt and Maddy, her plan had been a failure. Instead she had introduced Charlie to Judy, who was already committed to another and that was never her plan.
"What did you think of Maddy?" Colt asked of Charlie as they took a stroll after returning home, feeling the effects of a large meal and a need to walk it off. The night air was cool and relaxing, with a trace of dust and mizzle upon the slight breeze. Charlie took a deep breath and folded his arms across his chest.
"She's a little in your face." He answered candidly.
"Yea but would you do her,"
"Isn't she's the Maddy you almost had in the school scrub?" Charlie asked, giving his friend a slight push as he spoke.
"She is but would you do her, she's after you."
"You know if you asked me that question two months ago, I would have said yes. In truth, you wouldn't have had to ask, it would be happening right now." Charlie's tone became serious. "She did suggest I go back to her place tonight you know."
"Why didn't you?" Colt was feeling somewhat insecure but relieved Charlie had not accepted the invitation.
"I think you know why without my saying." Charlie paused and changed the conversational direction. "Judy's a nice girl."
"I never thought of her as nice."
"Isn't she Harry's daughter?"
"She is but don't mention Harry, she thinks her father is dead." Colt paused, "Why are you interested in Judy; you do realise she's almost engaged?"
"No not interested at all but have you got any male cousins?" Charlie asked tauntingly, feeling the passion of jealousy cross the short distance between them.
"There's always Dennis."
"Yes there is Dennis and what a relationship that would make. Somehow I think I'll also give your male cousins a miss."
Laughing the two paused at the main road and returned to the house in silence. On reaching the bridge, Charlie wrapped his arm around Colt's shoulders pulling him closer. Colt didn't reject his friend's show of warmth nor did he reciprocate. Once across the bridge they were met by Max in an even greater display of affection. Charlie released his hold on Colt's shoulders and raced the dog to the gate and on to the steps. Max won by a doggie head.
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